The Bell Lightbox: Condos atop

There’s a synergy so powerful at work at the corner of King and John streets, it could rightly be called movie magic.

There’s a synergy so powerful at work at the corner of King and John streets, it could rightly be called movie magic.

With an iconic film palace built into its base and a 37-floor luxury residential tower sprouting above, the union of Bell Lightbox and Festival Tower is unlike any other condo development in the city.

As the future home of the Toronto International Film Festival Group (TIFFG), Bell Lightbox, which occupies the first five floors of the project, is more than a place to see and revere good movies — it’s an enormous cultural investment in Toronto’s artistic development for years to come.

“This is the largest new cultural project of its kind — no one has done a project of this ambition in this country,” said Noah Cowan, artistic director of Bell Lightbox.

Bell Lightbox will house the Toronto International Film Festival once the project is complete next year and will continue to operate as a showcase for world cinema during the rest of the year.

The development is being made possible by Bell, the founding sponsor, and a generous helping of public and private money, including a recent pledge of $10 million by the Province of Ontario which Cowan calls a “hugely transformational gift.”

Toronto’s celebrated Reitman family, which includes acclaimed filmmaker and producer Ivan Reitman, partnered with the building’s developer The Daniels Corporation to donate $22 million to the project as well.

Bell Lightbox features an expansive grand gallery, an open amphitheatre on its roof and five theatres totalling about 1,200 seats equipped with state-of-the-art movie technologies and built to elicit the movie magic of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“We really tried to balance this idea of capturing the magic of the grand movie palaces of old with all the new technological tools at our disposal,” Cowan said.

Niall Haggart, executive vice president of The Daniels Corporation, says Festival Tower, which springs from above Bell Lightbox, was always cognizant of the cultural importance of the development and took great strides to ensure the union of condo and culture made sense.

“We understand that what we’re doing here is going to have a footprint and an impact on Toronto for generations to come so every element of this building has been treated with the utmost care and attention to detail,” Haggart said.

Festival Tower residents will enjoy a three-year membership to Bell Lightbox, preferred pricing and early access to shows, special passes to the TIFF every year, exclusive screenings and even a dedicated TV channel linked directly to Bell Lightbox events. Haggart notes that a large percentage of buyers have in fact identified themselves as movie buffs.

Cowan hopes residents of the condo will become Bell Lightbox’s most enduring patrons and that the theatre’s placement at the epicentre of the city’s entertainment district will be a beacon for lovers of great cinema from Toronto and beyond.

“This is going to be one of the most significant showcases of global cinema in North America and we believe there’s an enormous interest and hunger for culturally interesting filmmaking here,” Cowan said.

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